Beaches, barbecues and tan bodies are just a few of summer’s connotations. But for many, summer also ushers in the live music season. Between the world tours and festivals—not to mention the litany of hotbed venues throughout our region—deciding which concerts to attend can be a daunting task. There are only so many weekends. Follow our primer on these can’t-miss local shows for a carefully curated live music experience you won’t forget.
1. Country Megaticket
Jones Beach Theater, June 4-August 27
Catching a concert at the beachside amphitheater is a summer tradition and this year Jones Beach’s lineup is highlighted by an invasion of the South. The series starts with Jason Aldean on June 4 and gets bigger from there, with shows from Florida Georgia Line (June 15), Dierks Bentley (June 23), Lady Antebellum (July 14), Brad Paisley (August 3) and Luke Bryan (August 27). Ticket packages are available to see all the shows in the down-home series.
2. Neil Diamond
Madison Square Garden, June 15, 17
The Coney Island native behind iconic songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Forever in Blue Jeans” is currently on his 50th Anniversary Tour, celebrating a career that began with his first recorded hit, “Solitary Man,” in 1966. Anyone who’s seen the man live knows the 76-year-old pours his heart into every song and his two homecoming shows at MSG should be particularly special for both performer and audience.
3. Huey Lewis and the News
NYCB Theatre at Westbury, June 21
Is it still hip to be square? Well, not in this case, as the theatre-in-the-round design of the NYCB Theatre should provide a truly intimate way to experience the ’80s rockers behind sing-along anthems such as “If This Is It” and “The Power of Love.”
MetLife Stadium, June 28, 29
It doesn’t get any bigger than the world’s leading rock band performing at the region’s largest venue. The iconic Irish rockers have always been known for putting on highly entertaining and cutting edge stadium shows, but these shows should also be a bit more personal, as the band is touring in support of the 30th anniversary of their 1987 masterpiece, The Joshua Tree. U2 intends to play the album in its entirety each night.
5. Joan Osborne Sings the Songs of Bob Dylan
Landmark on Main Street, June 23
Osborne is best known for her 90s hit “One of Us,” but has been known to drop Dylan songs such as “Man in the Long Black Coat” and “Make You Feel My Love” into her live performances. This concert will see her covering songs from Dylan’s vast catalogue in the ideal acoustic environment of Landmark’s Jeanne Rimsky Theater.
6. Great South Bay Music Fest
Shorefront Park, July 13-16
The multi-day fest in Patchogue is one of the more affordable options when it comes to summer festivals (tickets for all four days start at $145) and the who’s who lineup includes a wide variety of bands spanning multiple genres including Gov’t Mule, The Wailers, 311 and The Zombies. And of course a Thursday night headlining appearance from hometown heroes Taking Back Sunday.
7. Rod Stewart
Jones Beach Theater, July 18
After a decade’s worth of touring behind his Great American Songbook series of cover albums, Stewart is finally back to singing his own iconic hits, as well as some songs off his new album of originals, Another Country. Bonus: none other than 80s popster (and Queens native) Cyndi Lauper opens the night.
Jones Beach Theater, July 22
Known for fist-pumping anthems and killer light shows, the British hard-rockers more than deserve their reputation as one of the best live bands in the world. The trio is currently working on a follow-up to 2015’s Drones, so it’s not unreasonable to think they’ll be testing out new songs. Show up early for Jared Leto’s band 30 Seconds to Mars.
9. Queen & Adam Lambert
Barclays Center, July 28
Original Queen frontman Freddie Mercury had an inimitable stage presence and voice, but American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert has proved to be a more than capable substitute. And given the Nets’ season this year, this show might be the only chance to hear “We Are the Champions” in Barclays Center for some time.
Jones Beach Theater, July 29
The Colorado band has a knack for ear-candy rocks songs (“Apologize” and “Counting Stars”) that get stuck in listeners’ heads for days. And while openers Fitz and the Tantrums don’t have as many hits, they will provide a nice, neo-soul warm-up to the evening.
11. Jimmy Buffett
Jones Beach Theater, August 15
With themed restaurants and merchandising deals around the world, it’s easy to forget that Buffett is also a musician with a rabid “Parrothead” fan base. Expect plenty of resort-wear and mellow vibes while singing along to “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
12. Stephen Stills & Judy Collins
NYCB Theatre at Westbury, August 26
Best known for his hit song “Love the One You’re With” and his work in bands like Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, the folk-rock icon is set to play a more stripped-down set alongside his former girlfriend and fellow folky Judy Collins, known for hits like “Send in the Clowns” and “Both Sides Now.”
13. Lady Gaga
Citi Field, August 28, 29
Just after her show-stopping Super Bowl halftime performance, Gaga announced dates for a world tour that brings her to her native NYC in August. Her new album Joanne is filled with anthemic jams, but the pop star recently said that fans should also expect a more intimate, interactive experience on her current tour.
14. Roger Waters
Nassau Coliseum, September 15, 16
Given recent world events, expect the former Pink Floyd headman to play a Wall-heavy set at his Long Island stop, as well as songs from his equally outspoken new album, Is This The Life We Really Want?
15. The Meadows Music & Arts Festival
Citi Field, September 15-17
The three-day party in Queens separated itself from the festival pack last year with a lineup that included Kanye West and Chance the Rapper. This year Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Gorillaz take the stage.